July 23, 2009


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I Hate Valentine’s Day (PG-13)
Nia Vardalos reteams with John Corbett in I Hate Valentine’s Day, a big fat silly romance.

Genevieve (Vardalos) is a florist who delights in Valentine’s Day not just because she loves a 200-percent mark-up on roses but because she loves love. Genevieve is a romantic — wanting every date she goes on to be the beginning of a glorious affair.

A glorious and short affair — Genevieve (who watched as her mother was devastated by her father’s infidelity and finally his abandonment) has made a five-date rule. After five dates of wooing, romance and surprises, Genevieve ends it — presumably leaving before attachments, emotions and other messy things can turn all this giddiness into sorrow.

When Greg (Corbett), owner of a new restaurant wince-inducingly named Get on Tapas, shows up, he might just put Genevieve’s five-date rule to the test. He’s intrigued by her all-of-the-fun, none-of-the-heartbreak plan and so, with her guidance, he sets about to create five (or possibly four — the exact number becomes a bone of contention for our two smitten jelly bears) memorable date events, each one of which makes him and possibly even Genevieve more anxious about the deadline put on their desire.

If you’re looking for unconventional storytelling, subtlety and realistic dialogue, Nia Vardalos is not so much your girl. If you want big gooey candy hearts filled with strawberry Marshmallow Fluff that make you feel just a little bit queasy, Nia’s all over it. She’ll give you your gauzy close-ups of John Corbett (he’s so dreamy — you can sigh) and your wacky friends and co-workers (Zoe Kazan, Rachel Dratch and Judah Friedlander). I Hate Valentine’s Day is about as nuanced as the title suggests with an ending that you could predict based solely on the knowledge of the two main actors. That said, I didn’t hate it. Vardalos is more comfortable here than in her recent My Life in Ruins. And sometimes what you want is an overly sweet bit of junk food to comfort your romance-starved soul. Just be prepared to feel the need for a rom-com cleanse afterward. C+

Rated PG-13 for some sexual content. Written and directed by Nia Vardalos (with story by Stephen David and Ben Zook), I Hate Valentine’s Day is an hour and 29 minutes long and distributed in limited release by IFC Films (and is available via the On Demand feature of Comcast).